There is absolutely nothing worse as a beer drinker than the promises made on a label or blurb on a brewer’s website of what a beer is, only to open it & discover you’ve been had. New England IPA’s are the current IPA beer trend of the moment, so when O’Hara’s Brewery from Carlow released one called ’51st State’ that was inspired by the New England IPA style (great name choice), I was eager to give it a try. Oh eagerness, how you mock me.
O’Hara’s from Carlow are probably the oldest, if not one of the oldest craft breweries on our fair Island. They were brewing craft beer before many of today’s much vaunted brewers were even home brewing. They have produced some cracking beers such as the much loved ‘Leann Follain‘, ‘Lublin to Dublin‘ & of course specials like ‘Foreign Exchange‘ (which I thoroughly enjoyed).
Right now, if you hear ‘New England IPA’ (NEIPA) you think CloudWater & their murky AF murkbomb DIPA series. And to be honest, I just am not a fan of the style. But, as I’ve learned with O’Haras, when they do a beer of a particular style, they’re happy to forgoe being enslaved to a style, which is no better showcased than their Double IPA.
I did not for one second think that this beer as it was being sold in Tesco would in any way Cloudwater-esque murky. Those kind of beers just do not sell in the likes of Tesco. But I was expecting some measure of haze given the presentation of the beer which ‘takes its inspiration from the New England IPA style‘ and ‘is an attack on the senses‘.
Pouring the beer, there is no haze that’s worth talking about. And the aroma does not attack the senses, which is two strikes against it in terms of inspiration taking. NEIPA’s are distinctive due to not only their hazy AF appearance, but their ultra-violent fruitfilled assault in aroma the moment you crack them open. And they are unmistakable.
The head on the beer is generous, but the colour also is too golden to be akin to the NEIPA style. Its missing that milky-offset to it. There’s a hint of the citra & amarillo hops on the nose, which to be closer to NEIPA or be ‘inspired by them’ needs to be amped up much more. And I mean a mega-fuck-ton more. It completely lacks the fruity-nuclear-fallout feature of the style.
Again, yes I know this isn’t O’Hara’s attempt at a NEIPA. It’s meant to be an ‘unfiltered IPA inspired by the style. It doesn’t have much bitter to it, but there is a sweetness is there. It’s a soft citrus leaning towards the orange side of the spectrum with some mango. But, I still cannot see where the NEIPA inspiration is in this beer. If anything, it’s just a average American-style APA more than an unfiltered American IPA.
And it feels like I’ve been one of those clowns on eBay who thinks they’ve bought a PS4 on the cheap to have it arrive & realise I just bought a PS4 box only minus the console. With NEIPA’s being the en-vogue style at the minute, you can’t blame O’Hara’s for cashing in on it. But, it still niggles me. Why bother to hint at NEIPA if you’re not going to deliver some of the characteristics to even try get people into trying this style, or to allow yourself to diversify later with more hazy beers when your pale beers are mostly crystal clear.
51st State feels like you’re being sold a pup. And if it yaps like a pup and looks like a pup, it’s a pup. Don’t buy this if you’re expecting NEIPA notes. If you want an American Pale Ale beer, then knock yourself out.